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January 1, 2013

1 dead, 3 missing in snowmobile accidents on Rangeley Lake

Game wardens fear three men in their 40s, who were snowmobiling to Carrabassett Valley, are also dead.

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

RANGELEY — One person was dead and three others were missing after snowmobile accidents on Rangeley Lake on Sunday night, state game wardens said Monday.

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Maine Warden Service personnel return to shore in an airboat on Rangeley Lake on Monday after motoring over ice. Wardens said Dawn Newell's body was recovered Monday after the snowmobile she was riding broke through the ice Sunday night.

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DEADLY ACCIDENT: People seen hugging and holding each other approach Maine Warden Service personnel wearing survival suits at the boat launch on Rangeley Lake on Monday. The body of Dawn Newell was recovered earlier in the day after her snowmobile went through the ice Sunday night.

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The body of Dawn Newell, 45, of Yarmouth was recovered more than 12 hours after she accidentally rode her snowmobile into open water, said Doug Rafferty, spokesman for the Maine Warden Service.

Newell's teenage son was riding with her on a separate snowmobile and saw her sink into the water, wardens said.

During the search for Newell's body, crews found clothing and helmets that belonged to three men who have been missing since Sunday evening, Rafferty said.

The men are Kenneth Henderson, 40, of China, Glenn Henderson, 43, of Sabattus and John Spencer, 41, of Litchfield.

They were due back in Carrabassett Valley late Sunday, and wardens began a search for them about 2:30 a.m. Monday.

Rafferty said the three men may have been looking for a shortcut back to Carrabassett Valley and fallen through thin ice or into open water.

"We've got to tell somebody's mother that he won't be coming home," Rafferty said Monday afternoon. "You just can't trust the ice at this point."

But Cpl. John MacDonald of the warden service said late Monday that the men were still officially considered missing -- not dead -- and that the search would resume Tuesday morning.

Rangeley Lake is about 20 miles from Carrabassett Valley -- about an hour's ride by snowmobile. Aerial photographs taken Monday show a large area of open water in the lake's center.

There are no laws or rules against riding snowmobiles on frozen or partially frozen lakes, only instructions from the state for riders to use caution. Rafferty said the warden service does not recommend riding on ice thinner than 4 inches.

Newell's body was recovered about 11 a.m. Monday.

She and her 16-year-old son were riding on separate snowmobiles about 7 p.m. Sunday when her machine left the ice and plunged into the water, said Rafferty.

Newell's son, who was riding behind her, started to break through the ice but jumped off to solid ice and ran to shore to call 911. Rafferty said poor visibility Sunday evening likely contributed to the accident.

Pat Caruthers, 52, who lives in the apartment next to Newell's in Yarmouth, said Newell was outgoing and talkative, and frequently spent time with her friends. Newell was divorced and shared custody of her son, Caruthers said.

Caruthers said Newell rode a motorcycle in the summer, although she struggled with a long-term injury to one of her legs.

"She was always smiling," Caruthers said. "You could tell she had a hard time with her leg, but she certainly didn't let that slow her down much."

Caruthers was quick to empathize with the teenager, who narrowly escaped the accident.

"I can't imagine what it must be like for him," she said. "He watched the whole thing."

Staff Writer Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

mbyrne@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

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Photo of Rangeley Lake taken Monday morning from a Maine Warden Service aircraft.

  


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